“…an incessant font of jarringly new ways of thinking about any issue he tackled.”

Aaron Cosbey, Associate and Senior Advisor International Institute for Sustainable Development

 

One vignette explains as well as any why I loved Konrad so dearly, as a friend and colleague, and why his memory is still so strongly with me. It was a fleeting meeting, in 1992 at the Rio Summit. I was manning the IISD booth at the NGO Forum, and Konrad happened to come by. At the end of our encounter he confided: “I have figured it out. The real issue in trade and environment is commodities.”He said it with a quiet fervour and a lecturer’s confidence.

Why was he sharing this conviction with me, a punk just out of school manning a booth for a fledgling Canadian institute? Because he was a natural teacher; he cared not only about the pillars of his profession, with whom he regularly rubbed shoulders, but also about those still wet behind the ears. Because new ideas like this one (which was Greek to me at the time, but about which he was dead right) delighted him—a delight that was infectious. Because he was an incessant font of jarringly new ways of thinking about any issue he tackled, and so had learned the need to repeat his messages tirelessly, to a broad audience, until finally people understood what he was saying. As monumentally unyielding as he was in his promotion of new insights for the public good, he was always patient enough to wait until we could catch up to him.

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